By Jenn Fang
For Northwest Asian Weekly
The internet is in an uproar this week over Julien Blanc, an American and self-described “dating expert” who travels the globe giving workshops to men who are seeking to become so-called pick-up artists.
This week, Blanc’s video became viral. In it, Blanc provides instructions on how to harass Japanese women in Tokyo. On his last trip to Japan, he gleefully declares (perhaps hyperbolically, perhaps not) that on his last trip to Japan, he was grabbing women off the street and shoving them in his crotch, claiming to sooth their concerns by simultaneously yelling the names of Japanese things — “Pikachu,” “Tamagochi,” etc. In one video, for his Melbourne, Australia workshop called Real Social Dynamics, Blanc teaches his attendees to choke women to assert dominance over them and make them more pliant for seduction tactics.
That’s not dating. That’s sexual assault, with a distinctly anti-Asian tinge.
A viral online campaign protesting Julien Blanc was born, and it soon went offline at one of Blanc’s workshops in Australia. Then, an amazing thing happened: Australia revoked Julien Blanc’s visa unequivocally
That’s awesome. So, why can’t that happen here in America?
In Australia, officials are taking a stand against Julien Blanc and pick-up artistry in general. Meanwhile, in America, pick-up artistry is a booming industry, one that is even defended as at least harmless, if not overtly political. This week, Julien Blanc is being labeled as among the most extreme of misogynistic pick-up artists.
And he is clearly on the fringe end of pick-up artistry. But these efforts at distinguishing between Blanc and the rest of the seduction sub-culture distracts from the core problem: the entire pick-up artist philosophy relies upon the base objectification and exploitation of women.
Pick-up artistry is about manipulation.
It is particularly popular within the Asian American community, where it is either casually condoned or openly endorsed as a justifiable reaction to the very real and lamentable emasculation stereotypes of Asian American men. The dating world almost always fails to acknowledge the difficulties of dating for minority communities, especially Asian men. Everyone knows that dating when you’re a tall, handsome white guy who looks like a carbon copy of Channing Tatum or Bradley Cooper is basically playing the game on easy mode. But the majority in America have grown up with white privilege and they don’t realize that having a different race requires a different approach, especially when the media emasculates Asian men.
Integrated into the Asian American pick-up artist brand is also a disturbing reinforcement of white supremacy, where white women are positioned as the pinnacle. Pick-up artistry — and its core values regarding women — continues to exist largely unchallenged within Asian American circles and sends a clear, and hostile, message towards Asian American feminists: the objectification of women remains at least marginally acceptable within our community.
Instead of speaking out against these workshops like Australia is doing, we in America are silent or even supportive.
At the end, workshop attendees emerge thousands of dollars poorer, having spent days learning the twin teachings that 1) women are easily manipulated through subconscious social cues into divulging their phone numbers, and 2) that masculinity is achieved through ownership of as many of these numbers as possible.
This week, feminists and Asian American activists are up in arms over the disgusting fetishism and exploitation of Asian women espoused by Julien Blanc. We are organizing additional efforts to protest him in Japan and in the U.S.
So, yes, let’s #TakeDownJulienBlanc. But, let’s just not stop there. Julien Blanc is the easy, obvious target for our ire. Feminists, and our male allies, can we finally hear some broader criticism of the entire pick-up artist philosophy and the seduction community’s central focus on female objectification and exploitation? (end)
Jenn Fang runs the website Reappropriate.co (not .com) where you can read her full commentary.